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24 May 2016

Faith-based organisations crucial for humanitarian work

Faith-based organisations crucial for humanitarian work

Alliance member Tearfund is calling on the international community to recognise role of faith-based organisations in responding to humanitarian crises.

Leaders at the World Humanitarian Summit will meet this week to discuss international responses to future disasters.

Tearfund say that humanitarian responses planners should involve faith leaders and groups earlier in their considerations.

Oenone Chadburn, head of humanitarian response at Tearfund, explains: "Faith leaders have a unique gift in bringing people together during a crisis. We saw this in the Philippines, the third most disaster-prone country in the world.

"As part of our humanitarian response, we trained 28 church leaders and 128 volunteer pastors in disaster preparedness. The effects were remarkable. Through the use of local networks, this training reached more than 100,000 community members – equipping people with vital skills in contingency planning, preparing quick-run bags, and forming local disaster committees, should another typhoon hit.

"The humanitarian system needs to harness power of faith networks, which are so often overlooked."

Tearfund is calling on the humanitarian system – major donors, the government and the UN – to make better use of local faith networks, such as churches and mosques, and increase funding to faith-led organisations.

Tearfund says that during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, faith groups were instrumental in limiting the spread of the disease because of their unique understanding of the cultural norms of the communities. Both Christian and Muslim leaders advised on changing preparations of bodies for burial as it was discovered this was increasing the spread of the disease.

As a member of the Evangelical Alliance, Tearfund is one of 600 organisations supported by the Alliance. We facilitate members' initiatives and campaigns and offer support to increase their impact. Member organisations have an opportunity to speak to the media on behalf of our membership, as we direct media and information enquiries to member organisations best placed to deal with them. The Alliance also provides training for organisations on how to engage with the local government and media. If you would like your organisation to become a member of the Evangelical Alliance, you can find out more here.